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IRS Issues Practice Unit on Section 965 Transition Tax

One of the most pressing audit issues for large taxpayers today centers on the Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 965 transition tax. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has designated Code Section 965 as a campaign issue and is actively auditing taxpayers’ transition tax calculations and positions, along with other tax reform items. The stakes are high, particularly given the potential to pay this tax over a period of eight years.

On March 23, 2021, the IRS released a Practice Unit that provides an overview of the Code Section 965 transition tax with references to relevant resources. Unfortunately, unlike some other Practice Units, guidance is not provided as to the type of information revenue agents should be requesting from taxpayers.

Practice Point: Practice Units are presentation-type materials compiled by the IRS as a means for collaborating and sharing knowledge among IRS employees. They provide helpful guidance to revenue agents in the form of an overview of the law in a specific area, examination tips and guidance and references to relevant resources. Although the Code Section 965 transition tax Practice Unit does not provide insights into the types of questions and information that revenue agents may seek on audit, it is still useful for taxpayers to review to understand the IRS’s perspective in this area.




Second Circuit Weighs in on Tax Court’s Refund Jurisdiction

Borenstein v. Commissioner is an interesting opinion involving the intersection of canons of statutory construction and jurisdiction. Recently, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the US Tax Court’s holding in Borenstein that the court lacked jurisdiction to order a refund of an undisputed overpayment made by the taxpayer. The case, which we discussed in a prior post, involved interpreting statutory provisions dealing with claims for a refund after a notice of deficiency was issued. The Tax Court’s holding was based on the application of the plain meaning rule to Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 6512(b)(3), which limit its jurisdiction to order refunds of overpayments.

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Weekly IRS Roundup February 4 – 8, 2019

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of February 4 – 8, 2019.

February 4, 2019: The IRS released final instructions for Form 1065, US Return of Partnership Income, incorporating changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

February 5, 2019: The IRS issued a news release postponing certain tax deadlines for taxpayers affected by the earthquake that occurred in Alaska on November 30, 2018.

February 6, 2019: The IRS released final instructions for Form 1041, US Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts, and supporting schedules, incorporating changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

February 6, 2019: The IRS released final instructions for Form 8991, dealing with the base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT) of section 59A of the Code, enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

February 7, 2019: The IRS issued a news release providing guidance on identifying and avoiding unethical tax return preparers.

February 8, 2019: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Le Chen in our DC office for this week’s roundup.




Proposed BEAT Regulations | Tax-Free Transactions May Give Rise to a Liability

On December 13, 2018, US Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released proposed regulations for the Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (the BEAT), which was added to the Code as part of the 2017 Tax Act. The proposed regulations provide helpful guidance on a range of important topics and generally go a long way toward a reasonable implementation of a very challenging statute. There is one aspect of the proposed regulations, however, that may be an unwelcome surprise for many taxpayers; the proposed regulations treat stock consideration in non-cash transactions as BEAT “payments,” thereby creating the potential for BEAT liability in situations involving certain liquidations, tax-free reorganizations and other non-cash transactions.

Located in section 59A, the BEAT imposes a minimum tax on US corporations (and certain foreign corporations, which are not the focus of this Insight) that consistently have annual gross receipts of $500 million or more and claim more than a de minimis amount of “base erosion tax benefits” for a taxable year. In general, as base erosion tax benefits increase, a corporate taxpayer’s BEAT liability increases.

The proposed regulations, which are generally proposed to be effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, include guidance for determining the base erosion payments that will give rise to annual base erosion tax benefits. Prop. Reg. § 1.59A-3(b) applies the same four categories of base erosion payments found in section 59A(d) for amounts paid or accrued to a related foreign party. The two categories that should affect the most taxpayers are the general category for currently deductible items and the special category for the acquisition of depreciable or amortizable property. With respect to this latter category, the acquisition price of the property will constitute the base erosion payment, but only the amount of any depreciation or amortization deductions claimed in a tax year will produce a base erosion tax benefit for purposes of computing the BEAT.

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Senate Confirms Rettig as Next IRS Commissioner; Desmond Next?

On September 12, 2018, the Senate confirmed, by a vote of 64-33, Charles P. Rettig to be Commissioner of the Internal Revenue for the term expiring November 12, 2022. We previously discussed the nomination of Mr. Rettig and his background here.

The IRS Commissioner presides over the United States’ tax system and is responsible for establishing and interpreting tax administration policy and for developing strategic issues, goal and objectives for managing and operating the IRS. This includes responsibility for overall planning, directing, controlling and evaluating IRS policies, programs, and performance. The IRS Commissioner is also required by statute under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 7803 to ensure that all IRS employees are familiar with and act in accord with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

The nomination of Michael J. Desmond to be Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains pending in the Senate. We previously discussed the nomination of Mr. Desmond and his background here.

The IRS Chief Counsel serves as the chief legal advisor to the IRS Commissioner on all matters pertaining to the interpretation, administration, and enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code, as well as all other legal matters. Attorneys in the IRS Chief Counsel’s Office serve as lawyers for the IRS. Their role is to provide the IRS and taxpayers with guidance on interpreting Federal tax laws correctly, represent the IRS in litigation, and provide all other legal support required to carry out the IRS mission




Weekly IRS Roundup August 20 – 24, 2018

Presented below is our summary of significant IRS guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of August 20 – 24, 2018:

August 21, 2018: The IRS and Treasury released Notice 2018-67, which provides guidance regarding separately calculating the unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) of each trade or business conducted by a tax-exempt entity. Section 512(a)(6), enacted as part of tax reform, requires this separate calculation by tax-exempt organizations with more than one unrelated trade or business.

August 21, 2018: The IRS and Treasury released Notice 2018-68, which provides guidance regarding new section 162(m). Section 162(m), enacted as part of tax reform, limits the deduction for compensation paid by a publicly traded corporation to a covered employee. The notice provides guidance regarding the “grandfather” exception for certain compensation arrangements in effect on November 2, 2017. See our commentary for more information.

August 22, 2018: The IRS released Revenue Procedure 2018-44, which provides guidance regarding accounting method changing resulting from the revocation or termination of an entity’s S corporation status. Revenue Procedure 2018-44 adds such accounting method changes to the list of “automatic changes” listed in Revenue Procedure 2018-31.

August 22, 2018: The IRS published a draft Form 8992 for computing global low-taxed intangible income and a draft Form 8993 for computing foreign derived intangible income.

August 23, 2018: The IRS published proposed regulations providing guidance regarding the availability of a charitable deduction when the taxpayer also receives (or expects to receive) a state or local tax credit for the contribution.

August 24, 2018: The IRS made it clear that US citizens and residents that are contractors or employees of contractors supporting US Armed Forces are eligible for the section 911 foreign earned income exclusion.

August 24, 2018: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Kevin Hall in our DC office for this week’s roundup.




News of Wayfair Decision Breaks during Tax in the City® New York

The first New York meeting of McDermott’s Tax in the City® initiative in 2018 coincided with the June 21 issuance of the US Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) highly anticipated Wayfair decision. Just before our meeting, SCOTUS issued its opinion determining that remote sellers that do not have a physical presence in a state can be required to collect sales tax on sales to customers in that state. McDermott SALT partner Diann Smith relayed the decision and its impact on online retailers to a captivated audience. Click here to read McDermott’s insight about the decision.

The event also featured a CLE/CPE presentation on the ethical considerations relative to tax reform by Kristen Hazel, Jane May and Maureen O’Brien, followed by a roundtable discussion on recent tax reform insights led by Britt Haxton, Sandra McGill, Kathleen Quinn and Diann Smith. Below are a few takeaways from last week’s Tax in the City® New York:

  • Supreme Court Update: Wayfair – Jurisdiction to Tax – The 5-4 opinion concluded that the physical presence requirement established by the Court in its 1967 National Bellas Hess decision and reaffirmed in 1992’s Quill is “unsound and incorrect” and that “stare decisis can no longer support the Court’s prohibition of a valid exercise of the States’ sovereign power.” This opinion will have an immediate and significant impact on sales and use tax collection obligations across the country and is something every company and state must immediately and carefully evaluate within the context of existing state and local collection authority. Click here to read McDermott’s insight about the decision.
  • Tax Reform: Ethical Considerations – Because of tax reform, taxpayers face increased uncertainty and will likely face increased IRS/state scrutiny for their 2017 and 2018 returns. Therefore, it’s crucial for taxpayers to be intentional about post-reform planning and compliance by coordinating among various departments (federal tax, state and local tax, employee benefits, treasury, operations, etc.). Taxpayers should understand the weight of various IRS and state revenue authority guidance, the IRS’s authority to issue retroactive regulations within 18 months of passing legislation, and how to take reasonable positions in the absence of guidance. They should also understand that the IRS is allowed more than three years to assess tax, even when there is an omission of global intangible low taxed income (GILTI) or when the tax relates to the Section 965 transition tax.
  • Tax Reform Changes to Employee Compensation and Benefit Deductions – Post-tax reform, all employees of US public companies, private companies with US publicly traded debt, and foreign issuers with ADRs traded on the US market are covered employees subject to the $1 million limit for deductible compensation. Though a grandfather rule applies if existing contracts are not materially modified, key questions about how to apply this rule remain. Tax reform eliminated the employer deduction for transportation subsidies (other than bicycle subsidies). It also reduced employers’ ability to deduct meal and entertainment expenses, and removed employers’ and employees’ ability to deduct moving expenses.
  • False Claims Act and Starbucks – False Claims Act actions involving state tax issues are becoming more and more [...]

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A Look at Treasury’s Recent Efforts to Reform Regulation

Just 10 days after his inauguration, President Trump signed Executive Order 13771, establishing the tenet of deregulation to be adopted by the Trump administration. Executive Order 13771 outlined the Trump administration’s vision for reducing regulation and controlling regulatory costs, and established a principle that for every one new regulation issued at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination — the “one in, two out” principle. President Trump’s Call for Reducing Tax Regulatory Burdens.

Access the full article.

Originally published in Law360, June 2018.




Tax in the City® Seattle Proves to be the Largest Turnout to Date

The second meeting of McDermott’s Tax in the City® initiative in Seattle was held on May 22, 2018 at the Amazon headquarters. McDermott established Tax in the City® in 2014 as a discussion and networking group for women in tax aimed to foster collaboration and mentorship, and to facilitate in-person connections and roundtable events around the country. With the highest attendance rate of any Tax in the City® event to date, the May meeting featured a CLE/CPE presentation about Ethical Considerations around Tax Reform by Elizabeth Chao, Kirsten Hazel, Jane May and Erin Turley, followed by a roundtable discussion about recent tax reform insights led by Britt HaxtonSandra McGill and Diann Smith.

Here’s what we covered at last week’s Tax in the City® Seattle:

  • Tax Reform: Ethical Considerations – Because of tax reform, taxpayers face increased uncertainty and will likely face increased IRS/state scrutiny for their 2017 & 2018 returns. Therefore, it’s crucial for taxpayers to be intentional about post-reform planning and compliance, including by coordinating among various departments (federal tax, state and local tax, employee benefits, treasury, operations, etc.). Taxpayers should understand the weight of various IRS/state revenue authority guidance, the IRS’s authority to issue retroactive regulations within 18 months of passing legislation, and how to take reasonable positions in the absence of guidance. They should also understand when the IRS has longer than three years to assess tax, including when there is an omission of global intangible low taxed income (GILTI) or when the tax relates to the section 965 transition tax.
  • Tax Reform Changes to Employee Compensation and Benefit Deductions – Post-tax reform, all employees of US public companies, private companies with US publicly traded debt, and foreign issuers with ADRs traded on the US market are covered employees subject to the $1 million limit for deductible compensation. Though a grandfather rule applies if existing contracts are not materially modified, key questions about how to apply this rule remain. Tax reform eliminated the employer deduction for transportation subsidies (other than bicycle subsidies). It also reduced employers’ ability to deduct meal and entertainment expenses, and removed employers’ and employees’ ability to deduct moving expenses.
  • Supreme Court Update: Wayfair – Jurisdiction to Tax – Following the Wayfair oral arguments, it is difficult to predict whether the Supreme Court will uphold as constitutional South Dakota’s tax on online retailers. Wayfair raises the fundamental question of when the courts should settle tax issues, and when they should wait for Congress to act.
  • Interaction of Cross-Border Tax Reform Provisions – Income of a US multinational is subject to varying rates of US tax depending on where it is earned. The US parent’s income from selling to US customers will be subject to the full rate of 21 percent and its income from selling to foreign customers will generally be subject to the foreign derived intangible income (FDII) rate of 13.125 percent. If the income is earned by a [...]

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IRS Implementation of Tax Reform Continues to Move Forward

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been busy in recent months working on implementing the recent tax reform legislation. The latest announcement by the IRS focuses on the $10,000 cap on the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted for federal income tax purposes. In a press release and release of guidance in the form of Notice 2018-54, the IRS announced that proposed regulations will be issued addressing this issue to help taxpayers understand the relationship between federal charitable contribution deductions in exchange for a tax credit against state and local taxes owed. The press release, Notice and forthcoming proposed regulations are in response to workarounds by various high property tax states allowing local governments to set up charitable organizations that can accept property tax statements. Based on these materials, it is anticipated that the IRS will disagree with the workarounds:

The Treasury Department and the IRS intend to propose regulations addressing the federal income tax treatment of transfers to funds controlled by state and local governments (or other state-specified transferees) that the transferor can treat in whole or in part as satisfying state and local tax obligations. The proposed regulations will make clear that the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code, informed by substance-over-form principles, govern the federal income tax treatment of such transfers. The proposed regulations will assist taxpayers in understanding the relationship between the federal charitable contribution deduction and the new statutory limitation on the deduction for state and local tax payments.

The IRS’s website provides information on the latest IRS news releases, fact sheets and statements. Additionally, we have a dedicated webpage with insights on significant developments related to tax reform.




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